Skip to main content

tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  August 26, 2014 9:00am-11:01am EDT

9:00 am
but don't forget when we saw the montgomery bus boycott it wasn't pastors, it was rosa parks and then the ministers came in participation was very much welcomed, their participation proved crucial. this moment gives the world the leadership of martin luther king, and i'm taking nothing away from the clerical leadership when i say that it wasn't the church necessarily that started the civil rights movement. let's remember who started the sit-ins. who did? students. it was college students in north carolina and eventually in dozens of other cities. the freedom rides were conducted by core, the congress of racial equality, which started them, and then students, veterans of the sit-in movement who carried the freedom rights through to
9:01 am
completion said there was really no church involvement there. i'm not trying to depricate the church. i'm asserting it played a central role but i don't want to give a tribute of monopoly of leadership to the church. in both reconstructions, the enthusiasm of white northerners started to wane, to decline when the price of black advancement rose. in the 1870s, we talked about the way in which just the need to police the white south became a price that was greater than what many white northerners were willing to pay, and that's one of the reasons the first reconstruction ended. in more recent times, you find that when the inner city riots of the '60s take place, when the school bussing issue arrived in the 1970s, when whites start to
9:02 am
realize that there is a national problem here and there is a national price to be paid, the enthusiasm for whites, or at least the acquiescence of whites in the north starts to decline. now, i want to draw a distinction here, though, between the two reconstructions. this time the federal withdrawal has been far less complete than it was in the 1870s. and today the south is different in ways some of which we'll talk about in a few moments and many of which we don't have time to get into, but i would say one of the most important ways in which the south was different is that blacks can vote now. we'll talk about why that is. in both reconstructions, racist violence played a crucial role. i don't need to tell you that in the 1870s, violence by the ku klux klan and other white terrorists was crucial in rolling back the gains of the first reconstruction.
9:03 am
and we saw in the films that in the civil rights movement, especially by the 1960s, again, you get very extreme, severe white racist violence against blacks and their white allies. but let's point out that the violence was less extensive in the '60s. as horrible as it was, it's not all-out war. in fact, it was counterproductive to those who wanted to keep things racially the way they had always been. it's the very violence against civil rights demonstrators that furthers their cause. there is a reason, as you know, why the southern christian leadership conference, after the stalemate in albany, georgia decided to go to birmingham. they went there, because they were pretty sure that they would get a confrontation there that would dramatize to the world what was at stake. and that's what happened. so there were fewer whites in the '60s who were taking up
9:04 am
arms. in the 1860s, it was millions in the confederate army. fewer in the 1960s by far, to less effect, and in fact, the effect was the opposite of what they wanted. in both reconstructions, northern blacks played an active role, but southern blacks played the decisive role. why is that? give me one good reason why the southern blacks are crucial both times? [ inaudible ] >> they're invested in the outcome, but even more simple. rowan. [ inaudible ] >> so the blacks in the south knew the way things worked on the ground. they knew what they were up against. yes, because the south is where black people lived. in the 1860s, almost all african-americans lived in the
9:05 am
south, probably 95% of the population of blacks lived in the south, and even in the 1960s, a majority of blacks still lived in the south, a slight majority. but of course it's going to be the southern blacks who play a decisive role because that's where the struggle is being carried out and that's where they live, many of them. okay. in both reconstructions, and this is more of a sideline but it's fairly interesting. in both reconstructions you see that the diversity within the black community emerges in, if anything, a more vivid way and people outside the black community become aware of that. we talked about how, in south carolina, for example, in the first reconstruction there were differences between the urban mixed race freed before the civil war population of
9:06 am
african-americans and those nearly freed blacks in the plantation district. the latter wanting radical land reform and the former not being particularly interested in that. so there is just one kind of diversity within the african-american community that emerged in the first reconstruction. in the second, we see it all the time. we see the tensions between the southern christian leadership conference on the one hand and smic on the other, which becomes more acute over time. we see differences between the northern black community and the southern black community in the 1960s. you heard john lewis who led the salma to montgomery march talking about the emergence of malcolm x as a national figure and how black folk like john lewis who had grown up in the south and the christian church really didn't know what to make of malcolm x. so in both of these instances,
9:07 am
you really see what was always out there, which is that the black community in this country is a diverse one. in both reconstructions, the crucial demands were for equality and access. i talked about the fact that i liked the word access better than the word inclusion because to me inclusion has a little bit of a ring of wanting to get into the other fellow's game. whereas access somehow feels more neutral to me. it's about the idea that if, as a society that has institutions that has a government that's supposed to be for the people, that everybody ought to have the same access to those. in both reconstructions, and i have to be a little bit careful here. the first reconstruction, if we talk about that portion of it which is the civil war, the
9:08 am
first part of reconstruction, you get a real measure of black political power. up through the end of radical reconstruction, blacks have political power that they never had before. and then again, in the second reconstruction, one of the fruits of the movement was intended to be and was indeed that blacks in the south won the right to vote on a basis of equality. a measure of political power. now, we need to add, we need to hasten to add that in both cases, the power that blacks obtained was in the political system. it was still dominated by whites, at least on the national level and on the state level. on the local level, it's a little different. there are many localities which were dominated by blacks in the first radical reconstruction, and there are many localities in the united states now, especially in the deep south,
9:09 am
where you have a black majority, black officeholding and so forth. the bad news is these places tend to be i mpoverished places a place where you may have political power but the monetary resources to make a difference are not abundant. in both instances, the first and the second reconstruction, blacks ended up tied almost exclusively to a single political party. first time around it was the republican party. the second time around it's the democratic party. and there are those who argue that this is disadvantageous. i had a black colleague at yale who once said, as many have, that black america would be better off today if there were more black republicans, because then the two parties would compete for the black vote by speaking to black interests. he said, we would be better off if there were more black republicans.
9:10 am
the problem is that most of us don't want to be republicans, including me, he said. so -- i'm quoting him. so there you have it. after both reconstructions, severe economic inequities remained. most of the black population after the first reconstruction remained for rural agricultural labors. today the picture is better, but it's still a case that one-third of the african-american population is mired in deep poverty. there was more of an attempt to address that in the 1960s, but we haven't made a lot of headway. i made the argument in the beginning that the gains of a second reconstruction have proved more lasting this time. i mean, after all, if we say --
9:11 am
we're talking about the '50s and '60s, the high water mark of the civil movement, how many years have passed since then? about 50 years. and after 50 years, there have been no rolling back of example of the rights of blacks to vote. if anything, blacks have more influence to vote than they've ever had, so if we're going to have a retreat from reconstruction, it's taken an awful long time to happen in any decisive kind of way. why is that? well, it's hard to answer definitively, but prejudice against blacks was less in grained at the beginning of the second reconstruction as it was the beginning of the first. that's an answer, but it also raises another question. why? why is white prejudice, as bad as it may have been, less intense in the 1950s and 1960s
9:12 am
than it was a hundred years ago? the only quick answer i can give is that all the trends and sciences and social sciences in the 20th century, certainly the mid-20th century, were toward a repudiation of racism. that sounds like an axiom to you, but we mentioned in the latter 19th century, people who claimed to be scientists and social scientists, were saying there were racial differences, inferior races inherently. that was something a respectable person could say in a room like this and not be laughed out of the place. by 1950, you would be very hard-put to find an academic person who would make that argument. very hard-put indeed. another thing that had happened, which you mentioned already, by the 1950s is that a lot of blacks had moved to places where they could vote. the great migration to the
9:13 am
northern cities. and the fact that blacks could vote up there meant that -- in parts of the north, white politicians had to listen to black people. and that proved helpful when it came time to vote on civil rights legislation in the 1960s. another reason that the gains have lasted this time better than last time, i would argue, is because president lyndon johnson was so politically skillful in this realm. in the realm of foreign policy, he didn't have a clue, unfortunately, in many respects. but domestically, he had the vision to come up with a system that would come as close as humanly possible to being self-perpetua self-perpetuating. what he understood was that the vote was going to be key. we talked about this. that if you want to change the south, if you want to change the country, you've got to ensure that black people have the right to vote.
9:14 am
the only way to do that is by federalizing voter registration, and he did that. he also figured out that if black people have the right to vote, it's going to become politically more difficult to take their rights away. the right to vote is a self-perpetuating right to a certain extent. because you have the right to vote, politicians are going to be more hesitant to try to take it away from you. it doesn't mean they'll never try. it just means your right to vote is an impediment to being denied the right to vote. that sounds silly when you hear it spoken, but it's true. i have more to say about that in a minute. another thing that was different in the second reconstruction is the world context. first of all, the fact there really was a world context. second, that the cold war was going on in which the united states and the soviet union were competing for influence in the world. the united nations had been created. as i mentioned to you before, i
9:15 am
think, the general assembly of the united nations is a body in which every country is represented. and with the breakup of the sñ war ' ii, you end up with dozens of countries represented in the u.n. that are places where people of color live. so it became less and less tenable for a president of the united states to try to get anything accomplished on the world stage or in the united nations and have to explain why black people can't eat in a restaurant in the d.c. suburbs. it's just too awkward. so that's a difference. the emergence of visual media. there were news media in the first reconstruction, the newspapers. but i think you would agree having looked at the films that we saw in this class that there is nothing like seeing film of a
9:16 am
building burning down or someone being beaten up or police dogs jumping on women or children or people being beaten by fire hoses, the fact that that existed in the 1950s and '60s augmented these other forces i'm talking about. let's not forget the factor of black education. black americans in 1865 knew what they wanted and needed. they were just as smart then as they were in 1965, but they had been systemically deprived in most parts of the country of an education. by the 1950s, you've got almost a century of black education that's taken place, and education education equips things, all sorts of things, including trying to change their place in society. you remember we talked about this great irony of segregation. whites in the south had this
9:17 am
brilliant idea that what they needed to do was to segregate blacks in every aspect of life. separate them off, push them off into the corner. one of the results of separation and neglect was a measure of black autonomy. if you have a black school with a black principal and black faculty, even if the resources aren't what they should be, and white people aren't so much paying attention to what's going on there, because they don't really care, you have the ability in that school to teach all kinds of things that ultimately are going to become useful in the fight for equality. in a way that you wouldn't if white people were running everything. so there is a way in which the s segregators dug their own grave. remember the busboy cut.
9:18 am
a professor ran off those fires calling for the boycott on the alabama state conference. the civil movement was conducted by college students emanating from black colleges all across the south. so the segregators had created the infrastructure that black folk would use to attack segregation. now, i'm talking about the lasting gains of the second reconstruction. let me issue a few caveats. in the first place, i have to preface this by saying i don't mean any of this in a partisan way. i'm going to be talking about republicans and democrats, and i'm going to be talking about different political figures. i'm not trying to cast aspersions on anybody. you can like who you want, i'm just trying to talk about fact. johnson, president johnson, when
9:19 am
he commanded his justice department to draw up the voting rights act, or actually, when the civil rights act of '64 was being drafted, he said, we passpass this, we democrats lose the white south through my lifetime and yours. it didn't happen quite as quickly as he said, but it pretty much has happened because the deep south is now pretty solidly republican. the deep south. but this part of the south, for example, virginia, not so much. virginia voted for obama twice, for example. texas, which is sort of southern and sort of not, but there are those who say that within 15 or 20 years, texas is going to be a solidly democratic state because of immigration from mexico. i don't know whether that's right or wrong. but in the short term, we have a predominantly republican south just as johnson said, and you
9:20 am
may think that's good, you may think it's bad, but it's a fact. we still have, as i mentioned, the deep poverty of one-third of the black population and a small percentage of the white population and other populations as well. but there is an intractable problem of poverty that we haven't figured out a solution for. we have continued defacto segregation. there is a way in which this society is still a segregated society. name one, one realm that is still largely segregated. [ inaudible ] >> housing and neighborhoods. dixon? >> religion? >> religious life in this country still largely segregated. whether you think this is a good thing or bad thing is interesting, because most african-americans go to predominantly african-american churches and i suspect aren't
9:21 am
particularly interested in integrating because they don't see anything on the other side that's better than what they've already got, but yes, religious life is quite segregated. neighborhoods. caroline? now, schools legally are desegregated. and there are many parts of the country where there is a lot of integration. my own children went to schools that were thoroughly integrated, but there are many entire school systems, such as the one that my wife grew up in, that are defacto, almost completely segregated because no white folk lived there in that jurisdiction. and that brings me to the realm of localities, local government. the way this country is set up is that a lot of the day-to-day running of life takes place on the local level. and schools are a great example. schools are run on the local level. so if you live in a jurisdiction where everybody is basically the
9:22 am
same race, you're not going to get integration. virginia is an extreme example of that because the so-called cities aren't even part of the counties. you've got cities in this state that only have a few thousand people in them, but they are separa separate. some of them have combined school systems with the county, some of them don't. so in the city of richmond, for example, the city of richmond has a school system that is impoverished, whereas the suburban counties have systems that are more or less flush with money. and according to the supreme court, there is no way to remedy that. so in many ways, we're still in a seg reregated society, but in many ways not. when i was your age, this college had just started to let non-white students to enroll, and here we are in a more
9:23 am
integrated environment. so, again, i'm arguing that the change is the second reconstruction have been more permanent, i just don't want to sound like i'm blindly optimistic and i don't still see the problems that are out there. one more caveat, if i may, and that is we're not sure where the supreme court is going. i was literally walking out of my office to come over here when my son showed me on his phone the headline that the united states supreme court -- i've not had time to read the opinion or even the entire article in the "new york times," but apparently the supreme court has upheld the right of voters in the state of michigan to eliminate affirmative action and admissions to state colleges and universities in the state of michigan. i may be misreading this, and it
9:24 am
was a '62 opinion which i don't understand how that even happened. so i mentioned this at a considerable risk of botching up the details. what i do know is that the supreme court under chief justice roberts has ruled against certain facets of affirmative action. they have ruled unconstitutional the central part of the voting rights act of 1965. now, that's remediable, congress can remedy that, but i'm not sure whether they're going to or not. this creates a problem for me because at this point in this course, which i've been teaching for almost 20 years now, i always used to say what i said to you earlier, which is the gains of the second reconstruction, many of them,
9:25 am
especially in the political realm, are self-perpetuating. remember, i said johnson created a system where the right to vote perpetuates the right to vote. what i didn't take into account -- and the proof of that, by the way, is the voting rights act has come up for renewal four or five times since 1965 and it passes by huge margins. republicans, democrats, northern and southern, most everybody voted to renew the voting rights act again and again for exactly the reason i just explained. what i didn't take into account was that a supreme court one fine day would decide that that act is largely unconstitutional. and i don't know where we're going on that. i do not anticipate that we're going to have a rollback of black rights and black welfare that will be anything like what happened in the 1870s, '80s and '90s. this is inconceivable to me, but i don't know where we're going
9:26 am
with the supreme court. and i don't mean this as a partisan remark -- yes, i do. yes, i do. yes, i do, because i believe in holding onto the gains that -- i think they are gains and i think we need to hold onto them, and i regret some of the tendencies that i see happening. okay. silver lining. nothing like the rollback of the late 19th century is in the cards, i think. here's the part where i may sound partisan and i don't mean to be. reagan and bush can win elections, but so can obama. in other words, it's an open playing field and sometimes one side wins and sometimes the other, it's not one side rolling over the other. whites today will vote for black
9:27 am
candidates, and obama is only one proof of that. candidates like to see predominantly white constituencies, and i'd like to say this is a step in the right direction. race doesn't automatically trump other issues on a regular basis the way it used to in american life. for many americans, there are a number of issues that are more important in their hierarchy of values than anything having to do with the issues of white or black. so again i say there are important parallels between the two reconstructions, there are important differences, and perhaps the most important of all is that the second reconstruction has largely st k stuck. i'll just close by saying it's not true that history repeats
9:28 am
itself. but it is true that peculiwe ca understand not only where we came from but studying parallels and looking for differences. i'm going to stop now and ask whether there are kmechbcomment questions, and i'll remind you you are asked to raise your hand. pop over to where you are and i'll call on you. this is your opportunity for instant pain. tanner. >> i want to ask about a decision that just broke this morning, but it does seem that the court ruled that citizens in a state could, by their own volition, remove racial preferences from admissions to public universities. do you think -- which seems to be a precedent that other states could do that as well, not just michigan. do you think that will happen in certain sections of the country, or do you think that there will
9:29 am
generally be a clinging on to affirmative action policies? >> no, i think it will probably happen elsewhere. the state of california already went through a thing like this where affirmative action was basically eliminated, i understand, from the university of missions. i don't want to get into chapter and verse, but i think basically a lot of people dislike affirmative action. if you put it to an up or down vote, yeah, i think other constituencies will vote it down. i think there was someone in the back row. no? let's go to jake and then jeremy. jake? >> well, we've often talked about in the semester a difference between democrats and republicans and where the transitions were made. obviously the black community is
9:30 am
kind of consolidating themselves to mainly being one with the democratic party, so i'll ask you two things. answer what you can,?ñ/lílí7t b consider it in the best interests of the black communities to diversify the political interests in terms of the parties they favor, and how do you think that actually can come about? >> the question was would the black community be better off spreading their vote -- having their vote up for grabs by more than one party, and do i think that's going to happen? how could it happen. well, the first thing that would have to happen is the republican party is going to have to fight out what kind of party it's going to be. because until we know that, there is no way to answer the other question. right now the republican party consists of actually more than two factions, and let's simplify
9:31 am
and say there is a faction that people call the tea party, but that's probably too narrow a term, that is very purist conservative and almost radically conservative, and then there is a part of the republican party that's sort of more centrist and more interested in the traditional form of politics which is compromising and getting the best deal that you can get. as far as i can tell, these two factions got to a point where they basically headed each other. basically what i've seen since the democratic party in the '60s, i don't know how it's going to play out. and how it plays out is going to have a lot to do with what actions blacks have politically, some of them might have a potential hold in the republican party. the other thing i say is when people latch onto a political
9:32 am
party, they do it in part because of the programs of that party, the philosophy of that party, but they do so also for cultural reasons. this is an old idea. historians have shown in the 19th century on factors such as religion, ethnicity and so forth. today there are cultural factors at work. as my black colleague at yale said, a lot of black folk look at the republican party and it just doesn't look like them. it doesn't feel culturally right. j.c. watts, who was the only black republican congressman from oklahoma, he served for three or four terms, i heard him on the radio the other day, and he said -- let me see if i can get this right -- he said there are a lot of republican positions that a lot of blacks could sign onto, and he said
9:33 am
economy and government and this, and he made this, that and the other. but he said listen to this. he said, white people for thanksgiving like to eat pumpkin pie. black people tend to eat sweet potato pie. j.c. watts said, my problem is i'm a republican but my party keeps wanting to feed me pumpkin pie. now, i'm not entirely sure what he meant by that, but i think he's talking in part sort of about ambience factors and cultural factors and maybe sort of hyper-assertiveness on the part of white leadership of the party. it's a comfort level i think he's talking about that something has to happen for blacks to feel more comfortable -- i'm going to say culturally comfortable with republicans before they can vote
9:34 am
republican. the same question is out there for the latino communities, as far as i can see. ten years ago, there was a real possibility, or some republicans thought so, that republicans could get a good chunk of the latino vote. but there is a big part of the republican party that's really, really keen on restricting immigration from latin america. not only keen on doing that, but they make their keenness know in language and body language and whatever else that the latino community finds very off-putting. and much to the dismay of those republicans who would like to see immigration reform, the republican party appears to have lost most of the latino vote for the next generation just by the
9:35 am
vibes they give off, if i can use a technical term. so i am not holding my breath until there is an influx of blacks into the republican party, even though there are some republicans who would like to bring that about. and sincerely care about the issues that blacks are interested in. one of them who did was congressman jack kemp who actually ran for vice president. he's no longer alive now, and by the time he had left politics, he was an increasingly isolated voice. i don't really see that black folk are going to perceive themselves as having a lot of choice between the parties any time soon. jeremy? >> yes, just two short questions. following up on the michigan state legislature passing the law to be in affirmative action, is there any particular reason
9:36 am
besides the state legislature's decision to do that? and as you know, the blacks tend to not fall in the republican party. i had a professor who noted that in the midterms, if you discount that black voters were reelected to congress, all the blacks who >> randran ran for republicans. is it fair to say that while black voters are running predominantly democrat, the only black republican -- the only black member in the senate is a republican is what i'm trying to say. >> actually, the first black member of the senate in the 20th century was also a republican. i really don't -- i don't know what to make of that. the senate is a whole different ball game from the house. the house -- acceptance, as far
9:37 am
as populated states, the members of the house of representatives are elected from localities, you might say. by the way, one thing that's happened there is one form of, you might say, affirmative action that's out there is the drawing in of districts to consummate the black vote in a way that produces more black congress people. we have 40 blacks in congress now partly because of the way districts are drawn. but many republicans love that because if you concentrate most of the black vote in relatively few districts, it creates more conservative republican districts every place else. so you have this combination of many black folk and many conservative republicans who want to draw congressional districts in a way that concentrates the black vote. your first question -- the one thing i'm going to say is not clear to me, and tanner, you may know this or somebody else may.
9:38 am
i had the impression that the elimination of affirmative action in the state of michigan was done by referendum. >> correct, yeah. >> so it's a vote of the people, not merely the state legislature. and that's going to happen elsewhere, i promise. unless i totally misread this opinion. sam? >> yes, you mentioned how one of the major deciding factors with johnson wanting to push through the voting rights act was america's position on the world stage in regards to race relations, especially with the u.n. what were presidents before johnson's, basically, position or platform when leaders from predominantly black african nations or nations with any population majority, colored populations, you know, visited the country, and did they address it at all or did they just sort of ignore the elephant in the room?
9:39 am
>> they tried to ignore the elephant in the room. i think the issue of world opinion really came into play during the kennedy administration. by the time johnson came in -- johnson didn't need to be moved as far as john f. kennedy did. it's not that john f. kennedy had anything against black folk, it's just that he had no sort of visceral engagement with plaque issues. so for him the way the united states looked on the world stage loomed larger because -- he was president, after all, when the berlin crisis happened and the u2 crisis happened -- no, u2 was eisenhower -- i meant when the missile crisis happened. kennedy was very occupied with foreign policy for the three years he was in office, so for him this was a big world
9:40 am
opinion. johnson didn't need so much to be pushed by world opinion because johnson, for a variety of reasons, really wanted to be the president who did for black americans what he saw franklin roosevelt as having been for poor americans. johnson had his own reasons to push civil rights, not merely to make the united states look better on the world stage. other sam. >> i had a question. you talked a little bit about how democrats don't necessarily have to compete for the black vote, but do you think that obama is perceived as championing black interests by african-americans today in kind of a hero in the way that civil rights leaders were, or is that not really the case? >> i think obama is basically loved by black folk, but your question raises an interesting topic, because you talk about is
9:41 am
the president a representative of black interests, and that raises the question of what black interests even are. i mean, when we talk about black interests, and i do this, too, we assume that all black folk want the same thing and have the same orientation. i'm not sure that i can give you a list of ten black interests that would be definitive. but if you take the affordable health care act, obamacare, that's going to benefit a lot of people, in my opinion. let's say it's designed to benefit a lot of people who don't have a lot of money, and black folk disproportionately don't have a lot of money. so is that a black interest? well, no, not in a sort of taxonomic way, but it benefits black folk. and i think what a lot of black folk want is things that are not
9:42 am
really racially defined. i mean, black people want what a lot of white people want, which is a good school for their kids to go to, public transit, some would want that. i'm just trying to think of issues that on their face have nothing to do with race. and to me that's what obama has tried through obamacare, for example, to make the society more fair. now, you can argue whether he's got the right approach or not, you can vote for obama or you can vote for mccain, i'm not talking about that. i'm saying that obama is trying, by his rights, to make the society more fair. is that a black interest per se? no, not per se, but it's a thing that most black people want.
9:43 am
i think -- to me, black america seems quite happy to have the obamas in the white house. i think it's -- it wasn't long ago that to see michelle and the two kids in the white house and your mind would be blown. go back two generation and see they won have even been in there as guests, for god's sake. yeah, i think obama is still quite popular among black americans. >> my question is going to shift the focus a little. i understand that terrorism played a pretty prominent role in hindering black rights following the emancipation as well as during the second rights movement. what role has terrorism played in stymieing black progress since 1970? >> you mean terrorism directed
9:44 am
against black folks? >> yes. >> i don't think it's really a factor. i was i thinking about that this morning, though, as i prepared to come to campus. some would say, well, what about trayvon martin, for example? stuff still happens, but to me that's -- as terrible as that was, and i don't know whether you mean this kind of thing or not, but trayvon martin, that's not terrorism. the guy who killed him, i don't know what his racial attitudes are, and i'm not even going to speculate, but to me, as awful and unjustified that was, it's not the same as a klansman going off and killing somebody because they wanted to vote. they're two terrible things but they're differently motivated. so i don't really see terrorism
9:45 am
of the kind that we saw in the 1870s and 1960 as a factor today. i'm not sure i'm being responsive, but that's what you're goinghhhh yeah, david. >> do you see sort of a parallel between the laws of the end of the 19th century and some of the laws today that operate through terms when southern states wanted black voting they went for literacy tests and poll taxes or today just laws that affect particularly black men that seem to operate through a non-racial context but in the end kind of operate exclusively on those groups? do you think there is a parallel there? sdp >> let me say that in the late 19th century, the language wasn't as code as we might think. the national laws couldn't refer
9:46 am
to race because they said you couldn't deny the vote based on race, color or previous condition. so you couldn't pass a constitution in mississippi that said negros can't vote. you couldn't do that, so you came up with an ostensibly non-racial scheme that could be used to the same effect. but if you look at the way those laws were discussed back then, if you look at the debates in the legislature, if you look at newspaper coverage of them, people were talking quite openly. they said, gentlemen, our entire goal here is to remove the negro from politics. they made no bones about it. now, today -- and the thing about coded language is it's coded. so you don't know whether somebody is talking in code or whether they're just talking that way. there are all kinds of efforts.
9:47 am
there was language in the "new york times" a few weeks ago that efforts by republicans in certain states to restrict the right -- to alter access to the ballot, and the types of measures they were talking about were things like curbing or eliminating early voting. there's been a trend to allow people to vote not only on election day, but you could come in to register ahead of time and vote. more and more states are doing this. and now there are efforts in several states to cut back on that. now, i personally oppose cutting back on it. i personally think people should have more access to the ballot and not less, but i'm the first to admit it is not the same thing as what was done earlier in our history. and there are those who would make the argument that if we have three opportunities for you
9:48 am
to vote early, that's enough. you don't have to have seven. and a person like that may be totally sincere. it may not be a code word. it is the case that these efforts to restrict registration and require that you produce i.d. in the voting place and the like are almost always sponsored by republicans, and i think it's at least barely possible that the thought there is the more of this you do, the fewer people are going to vote who don't want to vote for you. i think people want to curb the voting of people who won't vote for them. i think that's what's happened. and yeah, it's probably coded.
9:49 am
>> i just have a question about defacto segregation and revitalization projects. it seems like that keeps on being the direction cities are going into, especially just coming from richmond where you have a black mayor and there are a bunch of revitalization projects but don't seem to help the existing, i guess you could say, members of certain communities. what do you think -- why do you think that keeps on happening, and why is it perpetuated? is it just the way it's being marketed as, like, revitalization, or do you think it has to do with a sort of, like, lack of, i guess, communication between white and black communities? >> i'm not going to get into the details in the richmond example, but i have it in mind because
9:50 am
you are familiar with it. i was talking before about the difficulty in defining what black interests are, and what i really mean to say is there are black folk who seriously believe that it's going to be better economically for the whole community and for the black community if you do a certain kind of revitalization of some, as they call it, a neighborhood downtown. build a baseball stadium and subsidize the washington redskins to come and have their training camp in this case richmond. a person of good will and good intelligence can genuinely believe that those things are going to benefit the community economically to the point that all will benefit. all will benefit. whereas the other point of view would be, hey, you're going to tear down my house and not give
9:51 am
me another place to live. and that's a debate within the black community now. that's before you even get white people into it. so i'm not quite sure i'm answering your question, but it's just that in the '60s, people talked about black power. well, when you have power, you have to decide how to use it. once you have it, there's going to be a debate within the community that holds the power what you're going to do with it. and what this black neighborhood wants here may not be what this one wants over here, may not be what the mayor wants over here. that's the trouble with defining black interests. it was simple in the early '60s. black interests were, get your foot off my neck. give me access, give me my -- give me my god given constitutional right to vote. that was a no-brainer.
9:52 am
it's complicated now. sam. >> back in the line of the importance of racial violence. what do you think would be -- the civil rights movement would have turned out differently if whites in the south during the '60s and '70s did not resort to such brutal violence and resists civil rights in a much more passive manner? >> i used to give an exam question that was exactly that, in this course, and i'm not going to make you all do an essay at the end of the semester, but it was exactly that. what if law enforcement and the white public in the south had been more savvy in the '60s and not gone beating on people? would the movement have come out different? and the answer i have in mind of that is this. that in the end, segregation and racial oppression depended on the threat of and the occasional
9:53 am
use of violence. and just because you go to albany, georgia, and chief laurie pritchett doesn't go beating on people, and we saw that in the film, doesn't mean that you don't have a movement anymore, because what you do is you go to a place where the white power structure isn't as deliberative as all of that, where they're going to go beating on people, and that's exactly what the movement did. they picked birmingham because birmingham had a history of violence against black people. dozens of homes and buildings have been burned up over the years. bill kiner was in charge of public safety there, a little bit complicated what the political situation was, but he was the long-term head of public safety there. he said you go to birmingham, you're going to get a confrontation. what i'm saying, you might not -- look at the freedom ride.
9:54 am
it started where? washington, d.c. the first big city they got to was guess what? richmond. nobody got beat up. nothing much happened. they wanted to charlottesville and north carolina. eventually, they got to anniston, alabama. and you saw what happened there. so your counterfactual is a very provocative and interesting one, but it is really counterfactual, because in the end, in the end, the segregationists were going to pick up the club, in the end. nadia? >> i just wanted to bring the conversation around to education. when i was in elementary school and middle school, all i learned about african-americans was that they were slaved and then boom, one day, rosa parks didn't want to stand up and give her seat
9:55 am
up. i was just wondering, do you think that -- do you think our education system has really given us the education that would help people to understand where a lot of the issues in the black community come from? for example, the president said, president obama said to condemn black anger without understanding its origin is to further widen the chasm between the races. do you think that giving american students a proper education would help to bring the american people closer together? >> of course, i'm a great advocate of education. i think we ought to have good education, but i think there's a tendency in this country to believe that a proper education would have you to find that, is going to cure a lot of problems. there's a tendency to expect the schools to fix what's wrong with
9:56 am
the country. i think that's far overblown. i do not think we do a good job of education in this country, by and large. i think we do a still worse job in the teaching of history. i will say that you all and two thirds of you are from the state of virginia, as am i. i could make the statement even if that weren't the case, what you get in school is better than what i got. because what i got was sort of what had been out there since 1880. with just a few of the rough edges sanded off. you don't get that. at least you know who rosa parks was. now, they may not teach you much beyond rosa parks and martin luther king and malcolm x and then they move on to the next unit, but at least you got that. now, the president said when he was running for office that
9:57 am
you're quoting from the speech of 2008, i think, that we saw in class. he said that what -- read me that quote again. >> to condemn black anger without understanding his origin is to further widen the chasm between the races. >> to condemn black anger without understanding its origins is to widen further the chasm between the races. i completely agree with that. i don't see it happening anytime soon, because most people don't want to hear about anger. they don't want to study about anger. and they don't want to study about stuff that's painful. one reason i'm in here doing this is because i think we have to do that and there are people who like to come and listen to me talk here, but you try to take that out into the general public, or to the schools, i think the country has come a long way, but i think our appetite for hearing unpalatable truths is still very much
9:58 am
attenuated, let's say. dixon. >> going down the avenue in richmond, you notice the several statues dedicated to civil war generals like jackson and lee. >> i did notice that. growing up there. >> do you think there will be a time where the structures are concepts dedicated to the confederate themes disappear or will they be acknowledge as pieces of history? >> i think the statutes will be there for a while. they've stayed up this long. we're talking about robert e. lee, stonewall jackson, and those guys. there was an interesting controversy about back in the '90s some time, james river used to flood all the time. they built a flood wall to keep the low-lying parts of the cities from being inundated. and the city or somebody put up the display of pictures of richmond's history.
9:59 am
on the floodwall, and one of the pictures was a portrait of general robert e. lee, and there was a black leader who complained about this very vociferously and said you have to take that down. we're not glorifying robert e. lee. without getting into the merits of his complaint, you should have heard a lot of white people howl about that. they said, why are you going to take down that picture of robert e. lee? this is terrible, this is racial chauvinism. and i wrote a piece. i said, wait a minute. i said, i don't care about the picture of lee on the floodwall one way or the next, but you've got a predominantly black city council in this city since 1977 or whatever, 20 years now, and in all that time, not only haven't they taken down the statues of confederate heroes on monument avenue, but they rebuilt -- you know where the lee bridge is, robert e. lee bridge?
10:00 am
they tore down the old bridge and built a nice new one and they named it again the robert e. lee bridge. you want from the black community. they just built you a new bridge and named it after general lee. i don't think the the confederate legacy is in danger here. now, there were two small bridges across the valley that were named after confederates. little ones that nobody even knows about. they call the first street, in popular promise, the 1st street and 5th street bridges are what people call them, but they were in fact the stonewall jackson and j.d. spirit bridge. the city council did rename those after civil rights leaders. good for them. but believe me, there is plenty else named after stonewall jackson, robert e. lee. people complain, they say, i would just as soon not have that.
10:01 am
i think general lee will be there when they carry my coffin past there on the way to the cemetery. i think he'll still be there. because i don't think -- i don't think those who have power are vindictive, i think they're very tolerant, nice people. and by the way, the city council -- the predominantly black city 50/50 with a predominantly white city council. that's another argument for what i said before. people are voting less and less along racial lines. including black people. black people will vote for a white person they think is good, very, very readily. [ inaudible question ] >> i don't know the detail, but i was in the boy scouts in richmond and we were in the robert e. lee council. i still have that uniform. it says robert e. lee.
10:02 am
they don't call it that anymore, right? >> they took it off. >> they took it off, okay. well, you know, it's interesting the way we're still debating these sort of cultural issues after 120 years. we're still talking about commemorating the civil war. all right, we just had a 150th anniversary. we're having it, but still, past is not dead, has not even passed. >> one last question. somebody was talking about the blacks of today, and i guess this is probably an obvious question, but would you say that blackness during the civil rights movement was much more collective? i guess it was. i guess now people try to -- essentialize blackness, as we see, it has become something more -- definitely much more broken down into cultures,
10:03 am
like -- >> i don't mean to make a pun, but the issues were more black and white then. there was a black community who you could be a college president in the south, or you could be a janitor. and you faced some of the same problems because you were black. >> even black -- >> a different new york, but a different set of problems. it's all relative. i'm just saying the issues were -- they seemed more straightforward then. maybe they were, but they seemed so. i think most of you have some place you need to go, is that right? you need to get out of here. i'll see you on thursday. president obama travels to north carolina today to speak at the american legion's 96th annual national convention in charlotte. we'll have his remarks live at around noon eastern on c-span.
10:04 am
later in the day, live coverage from the wilson center in washington, d.c. for a discussion on the future of the european union. the european parliament secretary-general will be among the speakers. that gets under way at 3:30 p.m. eastern. more from our lectures in history series now with central connecticut state university professor robert wolff. he held a class on the civil war and how the memory of it has changed over the last century and a half. this is just over an hour. >> okay. so in getting ready for this, i wanted to do like a little background work on the so-called semicentennial of the civil war, which, of course, was 1911 to 1915. i found this quote. i'll tell you where it comes from in a little bit, but it seems to me to encapsulate the feeling of the early 20th century.
10:05 am
the days of the civil war now belong to the historians, the poets, the writer of romance, and the drama tift. now i think you would add the re-enactor there, probably. but of course, this is a period at which the civil war is still very much a part of living memory. right? there are living veterans of the war. there are people who were not involved in combat who are still alive. in 1912, state of pennsylvania issued an invitation of honorably discharged veterans of the civil war to come to gettysburg for a reunion of sorts. and you probably have already seen pictures of this or read about it in david wright's book. i want to spend a little time talking about that. that marked something of the high water mark. it was kind of the peak of their aspirations. they invaded the north.
10:06 am
the defeat of gettysburg was in many ways the beginning of the end. it proved at least on the field of battle there was no way for the confederacy to take the war to the north. so here we have some pictures. this is actually a picture of new york veterans having a meal at gettysburg. if you were to look at the public narrative, the narrative you would find in newspapers and commemorative pamphlets in public pronouncements, the sentiments expressed during this period were very much part of what david white called the reconciliationist's memory of the war. to quote the pennsylvania evening telegraph, there can be no unworthy sectionalism. no bitter memories in the prospect, with a united country with a spirit of patriotism pervading the length and breadth of us, the american public of
10:07 am
today is not the same as it was. okay, so while we talk tonight, i want you to think about the language being used. and we can come back to some of it, but i want you to think that there can be no unworthy sectionalism and what that might tell us. as you probably all know, in 1913, union and confederate veterans re-enacted the charge of the battle of gettysburg. this is a photograph of union and confederate veterans shaking hands across the wall at the top of the hill. how many of you have been to gettysburg? so you know the wall. you can see this. i don't think as historians we should underestimate the importance of this gesture. given the extraordinary passage of the conflict we studied. let me ask you a question. what were the feelings of union and confederate soldiers for one
10:08 am
another during the war? what do we know about those? tara? >> they didn't like each other at all. >> they didn't like each other at all. jamie? >> i think sacrificed, acknowledged it and sort of found a commonality amongst experience. >> later or at the time. >> at the time, i think there is expression. >> okay, john. >> to an extent, it's where the soldiers are coming from too, as geographically from the border states or from the north, anti-slavery abolitionist sentiment. >> okay. all right. so let's kind of keep going a little bit. the way i look at some of those narratives, i agree there are signs of kind of a shared understanding, but it seems to me in so far as there are tensions, they are at their peak
10:09 am
during the war. union soldiers, we have seen in james' work that there's a clear desire to get out there and kill as many of the enemies as possible. >> one of the things i found in doing my paper is general lee was quite dismissive of union soldiers. and i'm not sure that i -- i know sectionalism is the issue, but it does seem to me that the south seemed to have more of a marshall spirit, and i thought they thought of themselves as superior fighters. >> i agree, i do think so. and thus, it must have been difficult to find yourself on the losing side. yeah? >> on the eastern theater or the western theater, and slaves mostly fought in the east. >> right. >> on the potomac. and the armies in the west, like sherman, they had a different opinion. >> they might indeed. a very good point.
10:10 am
i wanted to put up this other image because if i go back for just a moment and look at the handshake over the wall at gettysburg, as a student of the civil war, the image that comes to mind is this one. who has seen this image before? this is a cartoon from 1872. mocking horace greely, who was then running for president. he had said let us clap hands over the bloody chasm of civil war memory. and he re-created it by depicting greely to expending out his hand over the dead of andersonville prison. and i think for me, at least, the notion that we have moved
10:11 am
from this to this is significant, right? how in your opinion do we get from a northern memory that is at least in part in 1872 still strongly condemning the confederate military apparatus, from there to the handshake? what do you think? john? >> it's from the whole drive of reconciliation. it's bringing back the union together in an attempt to create a more robust, complete, together nation. >> okay, tara? >> i think it's time. in 50 years has past before they have taken the photo. some of the hard feelings may start to vanish over the time. >> okay, jamie. >> that was sort of the moment for a lot of the veterans who are now politicians to find a
10:12 am
commonality amongst imperialism in the late 19th century. >> when confederate veterans decided they should support the spanish american war, that became a moment of sort of unity. john? >> i think there's a bit of a political nature to it, and then there's also, you know, even though we're seeing veterans, there's less veterans at that point because it pools attention because there's less people involved in the event, and it's sort of an effort. part of it is the confederacy wants to expand the honorable image of themselves. >> okay. so whose memory is not visible in the hand shake? austin? >> african-americans. >> african-americans. okay.
10:13 am
if we go back -- if we go back to that pennsylvania editorial, i'm going to read you a couple other passages and i want you to listen carefully. so we have that editorial that says there can be no unworthy sectionalists, right? it also says the following, in reference to kind of the valor of soldiers, right? both vanquished and visitors gave sublime display of the heroism of the american race. and then later, looking back across the entire period of the civil war, that period has enriched american history beyond computation. and the lessons taught by its results are of inestmible value to the race, both in the present and in the future.
10:14 am
what words leap out at you in those passages? does any word? what do you think the writer means by american race? >> talking white, talking white race. >> talking white, paul. >> commonality. >> so if we're going to talk about civil war memories, i thought i would put up a different sort of image. here we have the ku klux klan, right? this is the early ku klux klan of the post-civil war period, and also we have the ku klux klan of the 1920s. this is a photograph circa 1922. when we talk about civil war memory, should we talk about the klan? i'm going to be suggesting that's a yes. perhaps maybe i should frame it, what would be the consequence of thinking about the klan while thinking about civil war
10:15 am
memories? matt? >> when you talk about the klan, you have to look -- i'm thinking reconstruction, 1876. what, 1877. where you have the federal there and putting, i forget the law they actually put in place. >> the ku klux klan act. >> there you go. basically going out to arrest and stop these types of violent actions against african-americans. >> yes. not successfully, right, for the most part. so the ku klux klan is very much a part of the post-war reconstruction history, right? but why might be think about them in a context of the 50th anniversary? john? >> i was going to jump off what matt said. it leaps into this as well. the ku klux klan kind of shows everything that didn't go quite
10:16 am
the way it could have after the civil war. it shows the failings of reconstruction. the failing to kind of move past slavery into equality because you still had these people who are wielding fear and power in a large portion of the nation. >> okay. amy? >> it's more of the nation and that lies around that lie. it is the creation of that lie that even persists in one form or another to this day. >> exactly. we want the look. so traditionally, when we talk about the rise of the klan, beginning in the middle of the second decade of the 20th century, we talk about thomas dixon, the klansman, who gave birth of the nation. the question for us, it seems to me, should be why does the klan seem like the logical reference point?
10:17 am
because the klan is for moribund. whether it's for dixon or griffin, for the book or the movie, or for the growth of the klan culture that by the 1920s embraces millions of people, what is it -- how is it a salient image? >> the memory. it disappears only to be -- what was, 1925, there were 4 million members, and certainly, that is a lost cause through the '30s and the '50s and '60s in one form or another. and that means it was destroyed by civil rights. >> great, thank you. so i think right, this gets us on -- this gets us off to think a little bit about the role of race.
10:18 am
i'm going to talk a little about what i think race means in that period of time. we have to be very careful when we see the term american race. it is the height of race thinking in the early 20th century. it's part of it. by american race, the people who use those terms generally thought what kind of white folks should be. but it wasn't simply white versus black. it was far more complex in the 19th century. in some ways, the rise of the clan is a reflection of nativist sentiment. so if we remember that, remember that as groups sort of looked to try to think their way through this 20th century, right, they looked back at this ultra violent group from the civil war as a model for how to go forward. when we think about the semi-centennial, we need to remember it's exactly the same
10:19 am
period of time, i should say 1911 to 1915, my apologies, should say that, but we need to remember that 1913 is the year when woodrow wilson segregated the federal government, right? started with agencies like the postal service and moved from there. we have birth of the nation. we mentioned that. by 1924, we have the immigration restriction act, which pegs the number of people who can migrate to the united states at a percentage of that number that was in the country in 1890, which is to say it shifts the focus from eastern southern european migrants back to western and northern european migrants. i think we have to see all these things as being connected in some way. they're also connected to historical scholarship. one of the things i want to talk about is the connection between the civil war memory and the kind of scholarship that exists about civil war and reconstruction. we talk a lot about history and
10:20 am
memory. those of you in public history, which is a good chunk of you, you would probably talk about it more than anybody else. you're probably familiar with this quote. white wrote on a book, history, what trained historians do, is a reasoned reconstruction of the past, rooted in research. critical and skeptical of human motive and action. memory, however, is often treated as a sacred set of potentially absolute meaning and stories, possessed as the heritage or identity of a community. memory is often owned, history interpreted. memory is passed down through generations. history, as you all know, is revised. i would say in many ways, history and memory are rarely as close as they are at the beginning of the period. these comments reflect a later state of scholarship than you would find at the turn of the
10:21 am
century. the turn of the century is the era of the dunning school, named for archibald dunning of columbia university. it looks at reconstruction, it's all reconstruction as a terrifying and terrible mistake, placing the vote in the hands of african-americans. dunning and his followers arguing a big mistake of reconstruction. so scholarship of this era and memory of the civil war are all resonating together. so that's my 50-year piece. any questions? because i would love them. jamie? >> what did they do for scholarship, to support that at that time? >> for the most part, having read a lot of the old pieces, they generally looked at political pamphlets, speech documents of fairly famous people. if you look at any prominent
10:22 am
politician in the late 19th century, their papers and letters were published by somebody. all you needed was a good library and you could make progress. federal documents in some case. >> were the documents of frederick douglass just ignored? >> no, very few people saw him as a central player. no, very few people saw him as a central player in history. john? >> the semicentennial celebration really portraying or really were the reconciliation of the soldiers. i read something that it was more of a political move and not really a friendly gathering. people who were actually in the war. >> it's quite possible that we look back and see it stronger than it was, because certainly, there were political tensions between the north and the south in 1911 and 1913, but then again, you have woodrow wilson as president and he's a southern president from stanton, virginia. and so his world, that world is
10:23 am
already very different than what's come before. [ inaudible ] he does. he does. austin? >> quick question. when the klan was revived around the semicentennial, that's like when the flag was used widely is there a reason the battle flag was used over the state flag of the government? >> i'm the wrong person to answer that question. i'll have to get back to you on that one. >> okay. >> any other questions? yeah, matt. >> the notion that a celebration of the semicentennial, but i know that a lot of veteran groups were meeting on a regular basis. always having reunions and certainly in the south. that was a big deal for small towns because they would get their local brigades or whatever
10:24 am
volunteer units they came up. was that a way that the country was able to perpetuate the memory of the civil war? or do you think that's how the memory was sort of skewed, so to speak? >> i think memory is never pure. i don't think it ever can be. certainly, in the north, which is where i know more, the grand army and the republic, captors of the gar, served both as ways for remembering but also as platforms for political action. and so i suspect that's true for the confederate veterans as w l well. >> interesting that a lot of these confederate high-profile generals were vilified for any criticism they had of how the war went. but at these particular reunions, they were cheered. so it's almost like you had almost at a national level, sort of a disconnect from the local
10:25 am
level. i'm just wondering if the klan was more -- that memory was more local and then graduated up to a national level because of the birth of a nation or did it just come out of the war? >> so, what strikes me as being really interesting is the focal point of the klan is in indiana and the midwest, which is actually not the place where you have large numbers of confederate veterans. you have large numbers of the other one, other kind. so the new klan of the early 20th century is to me fascinating because presumably, you have grandchildren of union veterans. right? as significant players in the klan. >> what's the appeal? just because it's sort of like a white supremacist type of gee, wasn't it great back then? >> i think that's part of it. i would love to hear what other people think.
10:26 am
we have to be careful with the term white supremacist, which is correct for us, but we're projecting it backwards. that's why i want to go back to the phrase american race. they saw that phrase as having a set of meanings they could grasp. >> you mention immigration, but at the same time, you have this industrial revolution where people are living in poverty and people who are just miserable, and again, harkening back to the days of egarian bliss, so to speak. >> these are agrarrian protestant, christian, often evangelicals. prohibition is one of these large issues. they sort of proudly sport prohibition. >> it almost plays into the whole frederick jackson turner idea of the great american race conquering all of america, and we have gone away from that because now we have all this
10:27 am
filth and problems in the city. >> it does reflect all the prejudices. yeah. john, did you have something? all right, so if we jump forward to the civil war centennial, so this is, i think there's a lot more scholarship to work with. i think you can see quickly that the reconciliationist memory of the war is alive and well. this is a medallion that was produced by the united states civil war centennial commission. there was in fact a national centennial commission, something we do not have for the 150th. and its job was to kind of facilitate and organize and provide some kind of coherent structure to the commemoration. every state was to have its own commission. to plan activities.
10:28 am
now, in 1961, the history of the politics are very different than 50 years before. right? so here is a statement from that centennial commission, and i found this one. what was lost by the war was lost by all of us. what was finally gained was gained by all of us. how do you read that statement? how do you read that? yes? >> i guess you could look at it as although a lot was lost, both loss and the gains for both sides was a gain for both in the end. so it was kind of an everything got something and everyone lost something. >> okay. emily?
10:29 am
>> and it sounds to me like there was no distinction between the sides. you know, it didn't matter. we all came through it together and came out of it together as one without distinction. >> okay. john? >> to me, it was kind of like coming back to the reconciliation thing before. what was lost was the union and that what everyone gained when the war was over was once again a reunified union. so what is gained is the nation, essentially. >> so yeah? >> what i thought about it was everyone, both sides lost people, that people died in this war, and so you have hundreds of thousands of people who died, so yes, everyone lost someone, everyone knew someone who died, but the freedom and the reunification was gained by everyone at the end.
10:30 am
>> who's the i? john? >> there's no mention of slavery or anything. >> could you reconcile that statement with the experience of southwest georgia in susan donovan's book? >> john? >> no. >> why not? why would it be difficult to reconcile those two? matt? >> because if you are a slave, you didn't lose your slaves. >> okay, you gained. right? you gained. and of course, i mean, we talked about this. we talked a little bit about cultural reference points, but it's also true in the 1960s, you really did have different terminologies for the war. so it may have been the united states civil war commemoration commission, but there were states that refused to use the term civil war, right?
10:31 am
so terms like the war of the southern insurrection, the war of aggression, were terms muff more at play than they were or have been in my time. the war between the states was the term i was taught in maryland, which was meant, i think, to be more neutral. now, as it happens, the national civil war commemoration commission had its own controversy. what is happening in 1961 aside from commemorating the civil war? jen? >> civil rights movement? >> civil rights movement. so we have brown v. the board of education in 1954. we have sit-ins in greensboro in 1960, right? so all of these things are part of the backdrop, and not long before the anniversary of gettysburg, medgar evers is an naacp field agent is murdered
10:32 am
in his driveway, right? so that is the backdrop to this. so when the civil war centennial commission held one of its meetings in charleston, south carolina, its challenge was this. new jersey sent delegates who weren't white. and the south carolina centennial commission arranged for the guests to stay in the francis marion hotel, which was for whites only. and it set off a firestorm because in some ways that other memory of the civil war, the emancipationist memory which had not floated to the surface in the commemorations as readily in 1913 floated very quickly in 1961 and beyond because of the context. in the end, that war between the states civil war commission was solved by holding the charleston meeting on a federal naval base in charleston so that the meeting itself was on desegregated ground even though most people stayed in the hotel
10:33 am
in charleston. anyone a stamp collector? i certainly was as a kid. i had these stamps and i never gave them any thought. so if you can see them, what do you see? there's one stamp for each year of the war. so you have -- where do we have it? we have sumpter for 1861. shiloh for 1862, gettysburg for '63, the wilderness for '64, and then appomattox. what do you see in these stamps, tara? >> i see that women and african-americans are kept out of them. >> yes, i think that's fair. austin? >> they focus on military aspect of the war and not like the political or social implications or aspect.
10:34 am
>> if we think of some of the books we looked at, it's not -- it's not, we looked at some stuff about the military conflict, but this is all about the military conflict, and tara, completely right. there are no women here. so it's about men's experience in the war, presumably. even though we see silhouettes and we could imagine one of these is african-american, i think the assumption is that they're not. what do you think of the appomattox quote? if you can see the stamp here, appomattox with malice toward none. that's lincoln. right? that's lincoln's second inaugural. okay, with malice toward none. which seems to me as clear as possibly could be an effort to kind of print reconciliationist memory right on the stamp.
10:35 am
so, there were states of the war commission, and they each produced lots and lots and lots of stuff. the maryland civil war centennial commission, which as you know is near and dear to my heart, my home state, produced a wonderful brochure that i will show all of you at some point. this is a fascinating brochure. it's some 60 pages long and it details all the places you can go to remember the civil war. has little narratives, biographies, vignettes and what is striking is there is exactly one african american mentioned. in the booklet. does anybody want to guess? it is indeed frederick douglass. it is sort of hard to imagine the story without frederick douglas and it does mention douglas' role in raising
10:36 am
african-american troops. does specifically call that out. however, the rest of the booklet, the vast majority of the booklet, it is astounding how many civil war memorials there are in the state of maryland. i grew up near robert e. lee park, and i knew there were several civil war monuments, but this is one after another. and including one to confederate nurses, by the way. there's even an entry for john brown's raid. that might strike you as odd, but you need to remember that he planned his raid in maryland and stayed at a farm owned by a family named kennedy. what's striking about the entry on the raid is it doesn't tell you why john brown raided harper's ferry. it just says john brown raided the arsenal at harper's ferry. there is no mention of the thought of freeing the slaves. none of that. none of that as it slides.
10:37 am
>> as a good thing? >> oh, no. it's almost encyclopedic. it's one of those entries like let me get the facts down and let's be done. in fairness, most were done like that. >> it's odd they would have commemorated that. >> it, too, is part of the -- john brown is part of kind of a segregationist memory, because everyone agreed that john brown was crazy, right? in my high school history textbook, we had a picture of john brown and there was an article that studied pictures of john brown because there are fairly neutral pictures of john brown and then there are pictures that make him look crazy. my textbook had the crazy picture. and it had the caption, john brown, possibly a monomaniac.
10:38 am
nice neutral statement for your history textbook. so the booklet is fascinating. it's also fascinating to me as someone who studied maryland history. it's fascinating because i -- as i said, i had no idea there was that much confederate memory. if you were to go back, my civil war buffs in the class, right? for every -- for every one soldier who serves for the union, right, how many served for the confederates? from maryland? what's the ratio of union to confederate troops? just in maryland? >> 15 to 13,000. >> well, it's obviously a trick question, right? i'm just setting you up, clearly. right?
10:39 am
in fairness, somewhere, some maryland historian at some point will correct me because it's actually very, very difficult to calculate the number of marylanders who fight the confederacy because many flee the state. they don't necessarily get counted in maryland units. they're serving all throughout units, especially units from virginia, but the ballpark estimate that the state archive uses is 60,000 union troops and 20 some thousand confederates, right? it's overwhelmingly a union state in that sense. now, it is also under federal console, and so you could argue that those numbers are inflated. that that's not a realistic picture. but i think no matter how you look at it, it is difficult to say that the monumention in maryland, 95% confederate, reflects what actually happened in the war. instead, it reflects what people
10:40 am
want to remember. okay. or another way of looking at it, something like this. maryland's public narrative in 1960s has more stake in segregation than maryland had in the confederacy itself. all right. that's the way i would look at that. now, connecticut also had centennial commission. it produced lots of pamphlets. i am, of course, grateful to dr. warshower for sharing one of them with me and he researched the members. what is fascinating about the connecticut, it too says nothing about slavery. it too says nothing about emancipation. only if you read, well, i've read one pam in thphlet. the one about how to plan activities, specifically a manual for observance, is all about the war, not about emancipation. and so how many of you are teachers again?
10:41 am
let's get a poll. whole bunch. okay, so this is the instructions. this is the rubric. not the rubric, this is the standard. imagine this is the state level standard for teaching civil war to school kids. so in the school program, the student can be led to see that dissensions between people are caused by ordinary human motivations and desires, by selfishness, hate and pride, that the divisions that led to this awful war in all parts of the country, please note, and that the diseases of mistrust, hatred and war can be cured only by uniting behind a bigger idea or a bigger goal than the ones that divide us. what's that all about?
10:42 am
rich? can i pick on you for a moment? >> sure. i think it's about -- as much about kind of reflecting on what you're purposely trying to remember, as it is what you're purposely trying to forget. if you're talking about the things that divide you, those are the issues like slavery. but we're not going to concern ourselves with those, we're going to concern ourselves with things that are going to suck us back and bring us back together, you know. and that's the reconciliationist thing, rather than the emancipationist thing. what divides us is no longer the relevant topic of conversation. it's the bigger things that bring us back together. >> so jen? >> i think no one is to blame. i guess everyone is to blame in that no one is to blame. and we all came together and solved the problems. >> and everything was good. >> and it happened in all parts of the country. and like the civil war happening
10:43 am
in california. >> california not a big player in this thing. >> they don't understand that part. it doesn't help. >> i haven't looked to see what in 1961 that california civil war commemoration is much less hawaii and alaska. i have no idea. but in theory, they had, you know, commemoration commissions. jamie, did you want to -- >> this is sort of a nice cold war narrative, too. black and white, good and bad. you can use it for almost any end, if you want. >> i don't think you can extract it from the civil rights movement, or the civil war. if you look at dwight eisenhower's speech at gettysburg, kennedy was originally supposed to speak, but did not. eisenhower did. if you read eisenhower eve speech, when you get to the end of it, it's a strong cold war message. even though he talks about equality for all. it's still a very strong cold
10:44 am
war message. very, very strong. okay. now, the national civil war commemoration for the centennial was not as successful at holding things together. in part, because there was very much dissension over what the war meant. there was a trickling of understanding that the civil war might have something to do with what in the '60s would have been called race relations, all right? you may recognize the gentleman on your left. this is alabama governor george wallace. wallace was perhaps one of the most fiery segregationist figures of the era. and wallace also went to gettysburg. but wallace, of course, was already famous for one particular line, the one we associate with him. when told that the university of alabama had to desegregate, he gave a speech, and i will quote it. in the name of the greatest people that have every trod this
10:45 am
earth, can you hear the echoes of the american race there? in the name of the greatest earth, i draw the line in the dust, and toss the gauntlet at the feet of tyranny and say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. of course, by the time that wallace went to gettysburg in june of 1863, or actually, slightly after, the federal government had already forced the university of alabama to desegregate. wallace had to sort of stand aside as the national guard admitted two students into the school. but wallace went to gettysburg. he attended a rededication of the alabama monument, which had been placed in 1933 by the united daughters of the confederacy. he gave a speech which i won't quote at length. but wallace's speech was very, very clear.
10:46 am
the country should, quote, look to the south, end quote, as the true defender, quote, of the rights of states and individuals. wallace also said that the country was on the brink of civil warfare. that also is a quote. and told his colleagues in the senate that if they passed a public accommodations bill, mandating that public accommodations be open, regardless of color, this is wallace, quote, you should make preparations to withdraw all our troops from berlin, vietnam, and the rest of the world, because they need to police america. of course, we talked about the back drop. the civil war centennial occurred with the back drop of the civil rights movement. and of the very violent repression that was sort of --
10:47 am
that african-american -- activists in the south. the freedom summer of 1964 when the three were murdered in mississippi, that is sort of just in the offing. the civil war centennial. if we then ask ourselves where does emancipationist memory go, if it's only the tiniest level visible, in the official commemorations, where would we find it? david blight suggests, and i think he's quite brilliantly correct here, that we need to look in the obvious place. so we have all heard martin luther king jr.'s "i have a dream" speech. we've all heard it. but, as blight points out, the text that we remember is afterthought. it's a late addition to the
10:48 am
speech. the speech was written for the march on washington in 1963. a march about jobs and equality. but if you listen to the narrative of the text, what do you think you're going to hear? it's all about the 100th anniversary of emancipation. so unfortunately, i am not dr. king, so i will read it. but it will not sound like dr. king, because i am not that great a speaker. so let me just take one chunk of the text and you can hear it. all right? five score years ago, nice echo of lincoln there, five score years ago, a great american in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation. this momentous decree is a light of hope to millions of negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. it came as a joyous day break to
10:49 am
end the long night of their captivity. classic brilliant king. but then listen to the next passage. but 100 years later, the negro is still not free. 100 years later, the life of the negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation. and the chains of discrimination. 100 years later, the negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. there is a countermemory, but it is not part of that official civil war commemoration narrative. it stands outside of it. questions? comments? jamie? >> john lewis had to change his speech. the one he changed, he talks about how we are going to march through the south like sherman, all right? and burn it to the ground. nonviolently. of course, he had to change that
10:50 am
obviously. the civil war is everywhere. it's all over the place. >> right. and this is the reason we call the civil rights movement the second reconstruction. so what is -- jen? >> i think it wasn't like the monuments didn't exist. when i was in d.c., the professor took us on a tour, said it was paid for by free slaves, that had lincoln and the slaves he was freeing. even today it isn't like on -- you know, where you're going to go to look at the monuments and statues. it's on any special tour unless you know it's there. >> there are places to go, but they're dwarfed by the number of monuments that were put up in the throes of reconciliation. austin? >> about arlington national cemetery, the graves of the united states colored troops,
10:51 am
who died during the war, and they're on the back end of it. >> we've talked about this before. so if you've been to arlington, if you go into arlington, there is a clear section for the united states colored troops, but there's also a significant section that is rarely visited that is for the grave of free people. because arlington was also a freedman's bureau location. there are a significant number of graves that have -- that simply say "citizen" on them. right? >> i didn't know until my third tour of arlington, that i finally saw that. >> yeah. okay. i said i would talk about the civil war scholarship. before i get to that. civil war scholarship. so if we talk about the civil war scholarship in the era of the centennial, what do we find? we find this. scholarship in the 1960s was a
10:52 am
very different place. when we talked in our classroom, we've been talking about the cause of the civil war and our battle has been sort of between the -- or at least the folks we talked about, we talked about whether or not it's about state's rights or slavery. i think we've come to see where the scholarship is today, nearly every scholar says that the civil war is at some level, and i stress the some level, caused by slavery. its expansion into the west, and the political reactions to that act. it is certainly not a war that is caused by desire to free the slaves. although once in a blue moon i'll still hear that in new england. but in the 1960s, it was very different, it was between scholars who argued over whether or not the civil war as clash of cultures between north and south, or was it bungling politicians. now, at the point that we're looking at, the question was really the scholarship sort of
10:53 am
focused on the acts of politicians, were they responsible. there, too, i think you can see echoes of the time. and even though there are prominent historians who work on african-american history, there are prominent black historians. there's the legacy, but john franklin and benjamin quarrels, a bunch of people whose work is available. there are also white scholars writing about slavery. but the mainstream of the historical profession is not looking at that scholarship. the debate continues to be very much like the postage stamps that we saw. it's about the battles, it's about the politicians who let the battles happen. questions? jamie? >> i think how blight talks about an essay that had never been published. but he talks about how the line
10:54 am
was something like, the lost cause has been a force of good. in the history of this country. he obviously had a hard time reconciling that. how blight rationalized that is was true at that point. that's how most americans saw it. it was a benevolent source of good to that point. >> and they still saw the lost cause memory as a -- yes. >> as a union fining force. as that question. and then obliterated. >> yeah. matt? >> jamie i think mentioned earlier about the fact that the cold war has gone on at this point. is it possible that the historians are being affected by the fact that we don't want to show that our country has got this fragmentation in it, because of this global face that we want to show the rest of the
10:55 am
world? i mean, i never really was able to put this all together. and it is interesting that you mentioned with king's speech. it's interesting that he mentions that, in his speech, but we're still sort of seemingly dominated by this idea that we have to maintain a national front. it's almost like in contemporary times you look at the patriot act. and what it does to certain thought, so that we don't appear weak to terrorists across the world. does the way that we handle the centennial of the civil war memory, sort of like a -- on stage for the whole world so they see we've come back together, we're a very strong country, reconciled, and we have civil wars, but we don't have fragmentation in our society? >> that is a really good question. i might have to mull that over. it certainly does strike me that
10:56 am
any radical narrative of the civil war is not on the table. because it does -- radical narratives of the war look like other radical narratives from elsewhere. there are certainly people who write them. there are communist historians writing history of the period. but the kind of overall narrative is very much about unity, as you say. very much. john? >> it's not really in answer per se to your question, but my own research and stuff for classes, i have found soviet propaganda, crumbling statue of liberty, and the kkk being like, is this freedom, is this equality. and so it was something that -- american politicians are going to see it, and i'm sure it definitely is something they thought about.
10:57 am
>> you can see where the soviets would use it as fodder as their own propaganda. >> there's the cartoon that pops up where there's a white hand playing with a black child. two months before gettysburg, before the centennial. >> okay. so let me jump forward to the 150th, because that's where we are now. you may have all noticed there is a connecticut sesquicentennial commemoration. it would be difficult not to. i'm not sure you see him, but dr. warshower is in here somewhere. he is there. is he in blue? yes, almost certainly. it is safe to say he's in blue. you will notice that the t-shirts are all blue. there's no gray t-shirt in connecticut. i would say for the 150th, in
10:58 am
some ways, this is an observation, there is no national commission. there were efforts to create a national commission. they failed. what we have now is a whole bunch of state level commissions doing their own thing. so that whatever we may think about the kind of unification of the country with the civil war, we essentially have a state's view of what the civil war means, one state after the other. that's not necessarily such a bad thing. it may tell us the state level view is not as different as it used to be. does somebody have a watch to tell me what time it is? that gives me a good sense of where i am. so let me talk a little bit about some things that i've observed. and i'd love to have your feedback. so i went with connecticut civil war sesquicentennial commission several weeks ago. it's fascinating, because at the level of what i would call the official narrative, again, a narrative that is public that is put out by historical associations, by schools, at that level, the narrative has
10:59 am
really changed since my childhood. i'm not talking about people's private views in either upper new england or lower south. if you go ask somebody the meaning of the civil war in a diner, you'll get whatever you get. but if you go to the capital of the confederacy in richmond, a trip i highly recommend, if you are fortunate, you will have a tour by a guy named mark greeno who did a fabulous job with a whole bunch of connecticut yankees who appeared one day. if you go into the capitol, of course, the capitol is the place where lee took the commission of the virginia legislature to become the kind of commanding general of the virginia troops. it is filled with confederate memory. and yet the public narrative now
11:00 am
is much more nuanced. they have a fabulous exhibit looking at secession. and now, i'm quite confident that 20 years ago that narrative would have been all about the f that would have been all about that. not now. those exhibits show all the complexity of virginia politicians that we saw in the presence of mine enemies. a book we didn't read. so it has pro, it has con, it has vividly displayed a group of virginia politicians, who, of course, seceded on their own from virginia to create west virginia. so the narrative may actually be moving a little bit. although there is this statue, and i realize this is hard to see. this is a statue that is called brothers. it was installed in the virginia capital in 2011.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on